The market for copper is heating up, as robust gains in global construction and manufacturing activity bolster demand for this pliable, conductive metal. In terms of materials handled, and excluding mining for fuel sources (eg, coal), copper is the fastest-growing segment of the US mining and quarrying industry.
Copper Surpasses Gold
Over the decade to 2016, copper mining expanded faster than any other major metal ore or industrial mineral and surpassed gold as the largest metal mining segment. Volumes of materials handled in the copper industry are expected to continue to outpace the rest of the metal mining industry, growing 6.0% annually through 2021. The US copper mining industry stands to benefit from favorable trends in demand for copper both in the US and globally.
Global Construction, Manufacturing Activity to Drive Copper Demand
Demand for copper in the production of building products is expected to benefit from continued growth in construction activity. Building construction is the single-largest end market for copper and copper alloy products. Expanding global construction activity will also benefit US copper suppliers, as a quarter of US production is exported.
Sustained increases in domestic and global manufacturing activity will also drive demand for copper from US producers. In particular, domestic manufacturers are expected to increase output of electric, electronic, and transportation equipment. US producers will also benefit from continued growth in global manufacturing activity, such as growing production of electrical and electronic equipment in China and motor vehicles and parts in Mexico.
US Copper Miners Benefit from Stability
Competition from foreign industry members will limit growth in US mining activity. However, a few of the world’s largest copper mines have suffered from instability in production. For instance, two of the world’s largest copper mines in Chile and Indonesia have been sidelined by strikes and shutdowns in the past few months. The relative stability of US mining operations only adds to the advantages enjoyed by US copper producers in this market climate.
For more insights into the US mining and quarrying industry, see Mining & Quarrying: United States, a report recently released by the Freedoina Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. This report forecasts the total activity of US mines and quarries as measured in metric tons of materials handled to 2021. Material handled refers to the excavated volumes of metal ores, industrial minerals, and waste. Total material handled is segmented by targeted resource in terms of:
- iron ore
- other metal ores such as lead, molybdenum, and silver
- sand and gravel
- phosphate rock
- other industrial minerals such as gypsum, industrial clays, and salt.
For more detail into the market for specific minerals, see related reports including Fabrication Gold: United States, Phosphate Rock: United States, Steel Mill Products: United States, and Zinc: United States.
About the Author
Luke Hickman is a Market Research Analyst for Freedonia Focus Reports. He holds a degree in economics, and his experience as an analyst covers multiple industries.